Are you interested in starting an ambulance service but you don’t know to go about it? If YES, here is a sample ambulance service business plan template for you.
An ambulance service company provides ambulance to convey sick people or injured persons as quickly as possible to a hospital for medical attention. Some time back it was the duty and responsibility of the government or hospital owners to make provision for ambulance services; but nowadays private individuals are now keying in to start companies that offer ambulance services.
Please note that if you intend to start this type of business, it is advisable to first look at the existing laws and zonal regulations in the country or state you reside in to know what is expected of you.
You also need to pay a visit to the regulatory bodies in your country to get all the information you need before you can legally open an ambulance service in your city.
You can start your ambulance services company from a small town in the United States and if you are good at what you do, it won’t be too long before your brand becomes a nationally recognized brand especially if you go into franchising. The pros in starting an ambulance service company is that you will help to save lives and you will also earn money doing so.
For this article, I will discuss three types of services you can offer as an ambulance company and how you can start an ambulance service company.
3 Services you can Offer as An Ambulance Service company:
1. Emergency Ambulance Services
Offering an emergency ambulance service means that you have a standby ambulance system to convey persons with emergency health issues or accident victims to the hospital in the soonest possible time. This type of ambulance service requires skilled medical personnel and customized ambulance vehicles. The medical personnel will help to stabilize the victim or patient before they can get him to the hospital.
2. Non-Emergency Ambulance Services
This is easier to start and does not require special skills or customized vehicles to get started; it may include conveying patients to the hospital for their doctor’s appointments.
3. Cross Ambulance Services
This will offer both emergency and non-emergency ambulance services.
Steps to Start an Ambulance Service
Understand the Industry
The Ambulance Services industry comprises of both private and municipal operators that basically provide transportation alongside medical care for patients either by ground or air. These services most often than not are provided during a medical emergency.
The ambulances or vehicles as the case may be are usually equipped with lifesaving equipment operated by medically trained employees i.e., nurses and doctors et al.
For example, in the United States, most hospitals don’t own ambulances. If you call the hospital in a medical emergency, they will tell you to hang up and dial 911. Ambulances are mostly owned either by fire departments (or other public agencies) or independent ambulance services (private businesses).
The Ambulance Services industry is indeed a very large industry and pretty much thriving in all parts of the world especially in developed countries. Envision Healthcare and Air Methods Corporation are the leading players in the industry, they have the lion market share of the market.
Statistics has it that in the United States of America alone, there are about 3,256 licensed and registered private ambulance providers responsible for employing about 173,402 employees and the industry rakes in a whooping sum of $16 billion annually with an annual growth rate projected at 2.5 percent.
The above statistics goes to show that an ambulance services is yet another thriving and profitable business that an entrepreneur who is interested in making money from the healthcare industry should consider starting. There is a huge market for this type of services simply because there are loads of sick people out there who cannot transport themselves to hospital hence the need for private ambulance services.
People who are paralyzed, down with stroke, on a wheelchair and too frail to move are some of the people that need these services. So, if you are looking towards starting a business in the health sector, then one of your options is to start an ambulance service.
Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic and psychographic composition of those who patronize ambulance services cut across people who are sick and would need urgent (emergency) medical care, accident victims and of course pregnant women at the point of delivery.
In essence, your target market can’t be restricted to just a group of people, but all those who need the services of ambulance services companies.
So, if you are thinking of launching your own ambulance services business then you should make the target demographics all encompassing, you can as well partner with public facilities such as stadiums and airports, hospitals, healthcare, medical centers et al.
Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
Most ambulance services companies tend to provide a wide range of services as it relates to ambulance services. That is why it seems that there are no niche areas in the industry. But on the other hand, players in the ambulance services industry may decide to specialize in any or all of the following;
- Provide ambulance services (air or ground)
- Provide emergency and medical emergency medical transportation services (air or ground)
- Provide air rescue services
- Provide medical rescue services
- Provide standby ambulance or first-aid services
The Level of Competition in the Ambulance Services Industry
The competition that exists in the ambulance services industry goes beyond competitions amongst ambulance service providers; you will be expected to compete with other players in related industries such as medical transportation service providers that also transport sick people to hospital. So it will be right to say the competition in the ambulance services line of business is tough.
But the truth is that no matter the level of competition in an industry, if you have done your due diligence and you brand and promote your services or business properly, you will always make headway in the industry. Just ensure you ambulances are well- equipped, your workers are well-trained, your customer care services is top notch and you know how to attract and reach out to your target market.
Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
Here are some of the most popular ambulance services companies in the United States of America;
- Acadian Ambulance
- Action Ambulance Service Inc.
- Advanced Medical Transport of Central Illinois
- Ajo Ambulance
- Alert Ambulance Service
- America Ambulance Services, Inc
- Boston Emergency Medical Services
- Callaway County Ambulance District
- Cataldo Ambulance Service
- Georgetown Emergency Response Medical Service
- Gila River EMS
- Knox County Rescue
- McGregor Emergency Medical Services
- Medstar Ambulance
- Metro West Ambulance
- Riley County Emergency Medical Services.
When it comes to starting an ambulance services company, you just have to get your feasibility studies and market research right before venturing into the business. It is good to mention that ambulance services business comes with its own far share of challenges.
Starting this kind of business definitely entails that you raise plenty of capital because you need capital to purchase the first set of standard ambulances. You may want to consider pulling the resources from family and friends. Depending on the scale at which you want to start from, you might require as much as multiple thousands of dollars to strike this off.
You will be expected to hire experts that will help you with comprehensive economic analysis and the profitability of the businesses within the location that you intend launching the business. If you get your economic and cost analysis right before launching the business, you may not have to stay the long before you breakeven.
Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
When it comes to starting a business of this nature, it will pay you to buy the franchise of a successful ambulance services company as against starting from the scratch. Even though it is expensive buying the franchise of an ambulance services company, but it will definitely pay you in the long run.
But if you truly want to build your own brand after you must have proved your worth in the medical transportation industry, then you might just want to start your own ambulance services company from the scratch.
The truth is that it will pay you in the long run to start your ambulance services company from the scratch. Starting from the scratch will afford you the opportunity to conduct thorough market survey and feasibility studies before choosing a location to launch the business.
Please note that most of the big and successful ambulance service companies around started from the scratch and they were able to build a solid business brand. It takes dedication, hard work and determination to achieve business success.
Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
If you decide to start your own ambulance services company today, one of the major challenges you are likely going to face is the presence of well – established ambulance services companies, non-emergency medical transportation providers, and other forms of executive transportation services who are offering same services that you intend offering. The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market.
Some other threats that you are likely going to face as an ambulance services company operating in the United States are unfavorable government policies (healthcare reforms), rising cost of gas, maintenance cost, the arrival of a competitor within your location of operation and global economic downturn which usually affects purchasing/spending power.
Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
When considering starting an ambulance services company, the legal entity you choose will go a long way to determine how big the business can grow; some ambulance services companies design their business and services for the regional/community market, while some target the national market.
Generally, you can either choose a general partnership, or limited liability company which is commonly called an LLC for your ambulance services company. Ordinarily, general partnership should have been the ideal business structure for a small – scale ambulance services company especially if you are just starting out with a moderate startup capital.
But if your intention is to grow the business and have clients from all across the United States of America, then choosing general partnership is not an option for you. Limited Liability Company, LLC will cut it for you.
Choose a Catchy Business Name from the ideas Below
Normally, when it comes to choosing a name for your business, you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents. Typically, it is the norm for people to follow the trend in the industry they intend operating from when naming their business.
If you are considering starting your own ambulance services business in the United States of America, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;
- Silver Cloud® Ambulance Services, LLC
- Green Haven® Ambulance Services, Inc.
- Save Life© Ambulance Services, LLC
- Peter Panders™ Ambulance Services, Inc.
- Critical Rescue® Ambulance Services, LLC
- Blue Strides™ Ambulance Services Group
- Prince Kelvin© Ambulance Services, LLC
- Alpha Plus® Ambulance Services Ltd.
- Nelson Pearson® Ambulance Services, Inc.
- Universal Pro® Ambulance Services, Inc.
- Red Star© Ambulance Services, Inc.
- Allen Mason® Ambulance Services, Inc.
Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
In the United States and in most countries of the world, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policies that are required by the industry you want to operate from.
Thus, it is imperative to create a budget for insurance and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most appropriate insurance policies for your business. Here is some of the basic insurance policies that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own ambulance services company in the United States of America;
- General insurance
- Health insurance
- Liability insurance
- Risk Insurance
- Workers’ compensation
- Commercial Hull Insurance
- Physical Damage Insurance
- Motor vehicle insurance (comprehensive insurance)
- Overhead expense disability insurance
- Business owner’s policy group insurance
- Payment protection insurance
You can contact the following leading insurance companies in the United States of America to purchase the needed insurance policies for your ambulance services business;
- Allstate Insurance Group
- Liberty Mutual
- Progressive Insurance Group (PGR)
- Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC)
- New York Life Insurance Company
- Lincoln National Life Insurance Company
- MassMutual (Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company)
- Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company
Protect your Intellectual Property with Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
If you are considering starting an ambulance services company, usually you may or may not have any need to file for intellectual property protection/trademark. This is because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to successful run the business without having any cause to challenge anybody in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties.
But if you just want to protect your company’s logo and other documents or software that are unique to you or even jingles and media production concepts, then you can go ahead to file for intellectual property protection. If you want to register your trademark, you are expected to begin the process by filing an application with the USPTO. The final approval of your trademark is subjected to the review of attorneys as required by USPTO.
Get the Necessary Professional Certification
Aside from the results you produce, professional certification is one of the main reasons why some ambulance services companies stand out. You are strongly encouraged to pursue professional certifications; it will go a long way to show your commitment towards the business.
These are some of the certifications you can work towards achieving if you want to run your own ambulance services company;
- EMT Basic Certification.
- EMT intermediate Certification.
- Paramedic Certification.
- Land Ambulance Service Certification
- BLS and ACLS certifications, Pediatric Advance life Support.
Please note that ambulance services which is also referred to as emergency medical services (EMS) are regulated at the most basic level by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which sets the minimum standards that all states’ EMS providers must meet, and regulated more strictly by individual state governments, which often require higher standards from the services they oversee..
Get a HIPAA permit
Before you can start an ambulance business, you have to go through the requirements provided by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountant Act (HIPAA) to ensure that you meet up to the standards provided by the Association.
Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
It is a fact that you cannot successfully run any business in the United States without the proper documentations. If you do, it won’t be too long before the long hands of the law catch up with you. These are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your own business in the United States of America;
- Business and liability insurance
- Federal Tax Payer’s ID
- State Permit
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Business License
- Ambulance Operator’s Registration
- Appropriate driver’s licenses for drivers (Commercial driver’s license (CDL)
- Assistant’s licenses for assistants
- Proof of ownership, proper identification and vehicle license
- Business Plan
- Employment Agreement (offer letters)
- Operating Agreement for LLCs
- Insurance Policy
- Company Bylaws
- Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
Raise the Needed Startup Capital
An ambulance services company is indeed a capital-intensive business hence entrepreneurs willing to start the business ensure that they raise the required startup capital from all available legal means. No doubt when it comes to financing a business, one of the first things you should consider is to write a good business plan.
If you have a good and workable business plan document in place, you may not have to labor yourself before convincing your bank, investors and your friends to invest in your business. Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for startup capital for your ambulance services company;
- Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
- Raising money from investors and business partners
- Sell shares to interested investors
- Applying for loan from your bank
- Pitching your business idea and applying for business grants and seed funding from, government, donor organizations and angel investors
- Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends.
Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
Choosing a location for your ambulance services company can be in two phases. Firstly, it must be located in a city that has need for such services and also in a city with a good number of medical facilities and good road network. So also, you are expected to secure administrative office in a visible and busy location.
Indeed, location has a great influence on the success of your ambulance services company. If you have taken your time to study the ambulance services industry, you will realize that ambulance services are usually located in metropolitan cities; a place where business and financial activities are at its peak.
It cannot be overemphasized that the location you choose to open your ambulance services company is key to the success of the business, hence entrepreneurs are willing to rent or lease a facility in a visible location; a location where the demography consists of people and organizations with the required purchasing power and lifestyle.
If you make the mistake of renting or leasing a facility for your ambulance services company in a not too visible or hidden location simply because it is cheap, then you must be prepared to spend more in promoting the business. It is important to note that a business facility in good location does not come cheap hence you should be able to allocate enough fund for leasing/renting in your budget.
If you are new to the dynamics of choosing a location for your ambulance service, then you should feel free to talk to a business consultant or a realtor. So, if you are looking for a location for your ambulance services company, ensure that it is a place that is located in a business district in your city, a place that is visible and easily accessible.
Of course, you would not want to locate this type of business in the outskirts of town. Your clients should be able to drive down and locate your office with little or no difficulty. Vendors also should be able to easily locate your office when they have to come submit their bid/proposals.
Having said that, these are some of the cities in the United States of America where you can locate your ambulance services company;
- San Francisco, California
- New York City, New York
- Nevada, Las Vegas
- Seattle, Washington
- Dallas, Texas
- Oregon Florida
- Washington, District of Columbia
- Boston, Massachusetts
Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
There are no special technology or equipment needed to run this type of business except for well-equipped ambulances, and software applications. So also, you will definitely need computers/laptops, internet facility, telephone, fax machine and office furniture (chairs, tables, and shelves) amongst others and all these can be gotten as fairly used.
Order For Vehicles
You need to order for the ambulance that will be used to run this business; for a non-emergency ambulance service, any ambulance can serve the purpose but for the emergency ambulance service, you have to order for a customized ambulance that will have room for both a stretcher, and few medical personnel that will work to stabilize the patient before the ambulance gets to the hospital.
When it comes to choosing between renting and leasing an office space, the size of the ambulance services company you want to build, and your entire budget for the business should influence your choice.
If you have enough capital to run a standard ambulance services company, then you should consider the option of leasing a facility for your office; when you lease, you will be able to work with long – term planning, structuring and expansion.
Ambulance services is a very sensitive work that has to do with life and death; that is why you need to have a maintenance team to make ensure that all your vehicles are in good form and ready to be used at any time it is needed. Having a maintenance team may be an added cost that will cut down on your profits, but they are vital to the success of your company.
As regards the number of employees that you are expected to kick start the business with, you would need to consider your finance before making the decision.
Averagely, you would need a Chief Executive Officer or President (you can occupy this role), an Admin and Human Resource Manager, Doctors or Nurses, Ambulance Dispatcher, Professional Ambulance Drivers, Ambulance Assistant, Accounting Officer, Business Development Executive/Marketing Executive, and Customer Service Officer or Front Desk Officer.
Over and above, you would need a minimum of 10 to 20 key staff to effectively run a medium scale but standard ambulance services company. Please note that you would also need to the services of automobile servicing and maintenance engineers.
If you are just starting out you may not have the financial capacity to retain all the professionals that are expected to work with you. Hence you are expected to contract out some roles.
The Service Delivery Process of an Ambulance Services Company
The way ambulance services companies work vary from one company to another, but ideally, an ambulance services company is expected to first and foremost hire highly skilled and licensed ambulance drivers with commercial driver’s license, and get their well-equipped ambulances available for charter.
Once an emergency is reported, the company dispatches an ambulance and drivers with all the required physicians to that destination to ferry the victims to the hospital. A hospital can also require ambulance services where they get to get a patient from one hospital to the other.
It is important to state that an ambulance services company may decide to improvise or adopt any business process and structure that will guarantee them good return on investment (ROI) efficiency and flexibility; the above stated business cum services process is not cast on stone.
Write a Marketing Plan Packed With ideas & Strategies
As an ambulance services company, you would have to prove your worth over and over again before attracting high profile clients. So, if you have plans to start your own ambulance services company, it will pay you to first build a successful career in the emergency medical services (EMS) industry.
So, when you are drafting your marketing plans, make sure that you create a compelling company profile. Aside from your qualifications and experience in the ambulance services industry, it is important to clearly state what you have been able to achieve in time past. This will help boost your chances in the market place.
Here are some of the platforms you can utilize to market your ambulance services company;
- Introduce your business by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to hospitals, households, medical facilities, public facilities and players in key industries amongst others within your location of operation
- List your business and products on yellow pages ads (local directories)
- Leverage on the internet to promote your ambulance services company
- Engage in direct marketing and sales
- Encourage the use of word-of-mouth marketing (referrals)
- Join local chambers of commerce and industries around you with the main aim of networking and marketing your services; you are likely going to get referrals from such networks.
- Engage the services of marketing executives and business developers to carry out direct marketing for you.
Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services
One key factor that will help you offer your ambulance services at a price that is highly attractive is to ensure that you source your capital from sources that will give you reasonable interest and payment plans. You should also purchase cheaper and reliable ambulances.
Another strategy that will help you offer your ambulance services at the right price is to ensure that you cut operational cost to the barest minimum and channel your efforts towards marketing and promoting your brand name. Aside from the fact that this strategy will help you save cost, it will also help you get the right pricing for your products and services.
So also, if you are able to secure business partnership as it relates to getting referrals, then you will be able to get the right pricing and of course maximize profits from your business.
Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
The ambulance services industry is a competitive industry, and you must come up with a unique and highly creative strategy to be able to outsmart your competitors in the industry. Part of what you need to do in order to stay competitive in the industry is to continue to provide well-equipped ambulances and highly trained staff members.
In other to stay competitive in this industry, you must ensure that you are always on – time when called upon to transport patients and always ensure that you pay attention to details when carrying out your job. The truth is that if there are fluctuations in the services you provide, customers can choose to shift allegiance and settle for other options available.
Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
When it comes to business, no matter the industry that you choose to pitch your tent in, one of the easiest ways to increase customer retention and perhaps attract new customers is to produce results and satisfy your customers always.
If your customers are satisfied with your products and service delivery, they can hardly source for alternative service providers.
If your services and customer service fluctuate, you are likely going to struggle to get your customers retaining your services. Ensure that you offer your customers incentives if you want to retain them and of course continue to generate repeated sales from them and also to attract new customers.
Part of what you need to do to achieve this is to track progress, results or outputs with the aim of improving on them quickly as the case demands. When it comes to managing your customers and building a loyal clientele base, you should purchase a customized CRM software.
With a customized CRM system, you can easily stay in touch with your clients (you can carry out quick surveys, you can introduce new products and prices to them without any hitch, you can felicitate with them on their birthdays and other anniversaries, you can keep track of their progress, you can send bulk sms and customized emails and above all, you can easily receive complaints and feedback from them).
Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
If you are in business and you are not conscious about boosting your brand awareness and communicating your corporate identity, then you should be ready to take on whatever the society portrays your business to be.
One of the secrets of larger corporations is that they are willing to spend good money year in and year out to boost their brand awareness and to continue to communicate their corporate identity the way they want people to perceive them to be.
No matter the industry you belong to, the truth is that the market is dynamic and it requires consistent brand awareness and brand boosting cum promotion to continue to appeal to your target market. Here are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand and create a corporate identity for your ambulance services company;
- Sponsor relevant community – based events/programs
- Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google + et al to promote your ambulance services company
- Install your Billboards on strategic locations all around the locations where you operate
- Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas
- List your ambulance services company in local directories / yellow pages
- Advertise your ambulance services company in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site.
- Position your Flexi Banners at strategic positions in the locations where your ambulance services company operates.
- Ensure that all your staff members wear your branded shirts and all your ambulances and vans are branded with your company logo.